The changes just keep coming from Facebook.
Of course, that makes sense, Facebook know they need to innovate to stay ahead of the game – but for social media managers and those trying to ensure they’re putting their best foot forward on The Social Network, and utilizing every possible opportunity, it can make things difficult.
To help with this, we’re coordinating a weekly listing of Facebook updates and tests which have been spotted out ‘in the wild’. Not all of these will ever make it to full roll-out stage, but they do provide some interesting pointers on where The Social Network is looking, and what they’re focusing on to help boost engagement.
Here are five new tests spotted across the web this week.
1. Reactions Store
Facebook’s ‘Reactions’ remain an interesting tool – not an essential element of The Social Network, but one that’s gained a place for some users. And usage of Reactions is rising – they still pale in comparison to use of the traditional Like, but new data does show more people are tapping the ‘Love’, ‘Ha Ha’ and ‘Angry’ emoji responses, more often.
And Facebook’s still keen to make them a more significant element. Back in February, to mark the first anniversary of Reactions being in circulation, Facebook announced that Reactions would now carry more weight in the News Feed algorithm, as people who’ve clicked on a Reaction tend to be displaying a more significant emotional response.
So how else could Facebook look to increase Reactions use and make them a more relevant consideration?
Check this out:
The ‘Reactions Store’, currently hidden in Facebook’s backend code, offers a range of Reactions to choose from to display on your profile. Your selection only changes the way Reactions are displayed to you, not how others see your responses – but still, it provides another way for Facebook to spark more interest in Reactions, which could, in turn, get more people using the different types.
It’s possible, too, that custom Reactions could also become a high-end ad option – you could imagine, for example, that Disney might be keen to have a Star Wars-themed Reaction set for their upcoming releases, or for The Avengers characters in their promotions.
Right now, there’s limited information on where Facebook are at in terms of testing the ‘Reaction Store’ – and whether it might be a paid store or merely a set of options you can activate, similar to their frames collection (with the latter seeming more likely), but the fact that its present at all suggests it could be getting a wider release in the near future.
We’ll keep you updated on any announcements.
2. Instagram Followers
Over on Instagram, they’re testing out a new indicator which shows which profiles follow you, which could make it easier to keep track of your audience.
Instagram has notoriously never had a ‘following’ notifier, which has made it more difficult to sort the fans from the lurkers. The new option could make it easier to understand who you’re reaching, and help brands target their outreach to the right people.
The feature is currently being tested on Android – no word on a wider release.
3. New Payment Options in Messenger
Facebook’s working hard to capitalize on Messenger’s 1.3 billion users by introducing new business tools and options in order to convert the app into an all-encompassing, revenue-generating machine.
Thus far, those efforts have progressed slower than expected, but newer options like bots and real-time interaction with businesses could be significantly boosted if Facebook were to introduce more streamlined payment options to complete the circle.
And they may be on track to do just that – as reported by user Devesh Logendran, Facebook has introduced two new Messenger payment options in the Philippines.
The Philippines is a key region for Facebook, with the platform seeing more growth in the Asia Pacific sector than anywhere else. If Facebook can add in payment options to compliment that growth, that could give them a solid grounding to make Messenger a more essential business component from the adoption stage, which would boost Messenger commerce overall.
Also worth noting, Amazon’s 1-click patent recently expired, which could open the door for more platforms to offer similar. You can bet Facebook is already well on the way to implementing similar.
4. WhatsApp Integration
Facebook’s also working to create more definitive connection between their apps.
Earlier this week, we reported how they’d recently added the capacity to switch to Instagram without ever leaving Facebook, another step towards keeping you on-platform for longer.
Now, some users have also reported seeing a similar option for WhatsApp.
The integration of Facebook apps may seem minor, and an obvious progression – but by bolting their various experiences together, Facebook is also working towards a situation where you never need to leave their apps, where all your social interactions and business transactions can be completed, all on one big platform.
The end result of that will likely see Facebook continue to expand its domination of online advertising – by keeping you within their digital walls for longer, Facebook will not only be able to offer more cross-app integration and promotion, but they’ll also be able to report greater increases in time spent.
For example, if Facebook could say that 50% of all time on mobile is spent within Facebook’s family of apps – and all of that activity can be tracked, measured and utilized in ad targeting – that would give them a significant advantage over everyone else.
Even as a statistical measure, there are significant benefits to Facebook adding in more integrations of this sort.
5. Polls with GIFs
And the last test spotted this week is a new option to include GIFs in Facebook polls.
It’s an interesting way to boost engagement, and will no doubt help Pages generate more attention in News Feeds.
The option could also be seen as a counter to the rising number of Pages using makeshift polls within Facebook Live – which use Reactions as a voting mechanism.
Facebook has sought to discourage this, as the use of Reactions as a voting measure can skew their data. Maybe, by adding in a simple, legitimate way to conduct polls, they could provide a more viable alternative – though the expanded reach of Facebook Live videos is no doubt the key draw in using them for such purposes.
Either way, it’s a good looking option, and will likely prove popular, if it sees wider release.